Picard Season 2 Episode 8: “Mercy” Review | Calling Out the Future

***Spoiler Alert***

At this point in the season, there are only two episodes left. The pieces are completely shuffled, and the story needs resolving. Hopefully, they won’t introduce any new plot threads, so things can finally start making sense. That’s pretty difficult for a season like this, which has spent so much time adding new threads throughout episodes while having side adventures that seemingly go nowhere. The eBay thing to say about Star Trek Picard, Season 2 -Episode 8 (entitled “Mercy”) is that the audience can begin to see how a few of these threads that are remaining are related to each other, and there may be some semblance of what the final episodes might be like.

This episode begins with Picard and Guinan in a small room, waiting to be interrogated by FBI agent Wells about camera footage of Picard materializing out of thin air. During last week’s episode and this one, some fans theorized that, based on Wells’ strange attitude about extraterrestrial happenings, he might be a time traveler himself. The same actor played a character in a Star Trek: Voyager episode (“Relativity”) that involved time travel, so there had been some speculation that they were using the same character. After all, is that any stranger than the writers pulling a character related to the original series “Assignment Earth”? It turns out that Wells is a new character and his strange attitude toward Picard and Guinan is due to an encounter with a Vulcan survey team he had as a child. In Star Trek lore, Vulcans have been sending survey teams to Earth to monitor human progress since at least as early as the 1950s. And, after one of them mind-melds with young Wells, they beam up, having failed to erase his memory of their encounter. After some grueling dialogue, all of this is revealed. Wells returns Picard’s communicator and allows him and Guinan to leave. Before leaving, Guinan meets with Q (John Delancie), who has his first significant role in the season in quite some time. She learns what the audience suspects: there is something wrong with Q, and maybe he is dying, and he has been tinkering a bit much with 2024 Earth.

Meanwhile, Raffi and Seven finally track down Jurati, who has become an unusual mix of herself and the Borg Queen inside of her trying to take over while Jurati has been stabilizing her Borg nanoprobes using car batteries. Eventually, Seven and Raffi discover that her target is Adam Soong (Brent Spiner), whose daughter (now cured by Q) has left him. We learn that Renee Picard’s rocket launch, if successful, would have made Soong’s work in genetic engineering useless. With Jurati / Borg Queen showing up to team with Soong, that rocket launch story seems to be over for the season. The Queen, along with Soong, and some convenient Special Forces mercenaries, somehow assembled between scenes, assault the La Serena itself.

That’s the story in a nutshell. As contrived as it may be, the real problem with the episode is how the story is told. The editing between the various subplots is sloppy. The dialogue is trite and clearly focused on the plot rather than the characters. The constant shifts from one generic-looking modern-day set or location to another give this episode the feel of a CW show. It rarely feels like Star Trek at all (compare it to the first episode of the season, The Star Gazer, which had a very distinct, and most welcome, Star Trek feel to it). Suppose the earlier episodes had cut out a lot of the filler material, like Seven and Raffi being chased around the city. In that case, they could have taken more time with dialogue and setting up the actual story. There is literally a scene in the episode where Picard and Raffi are reunited, and Raffi exclaims, “Picard, how did you get here?” before immediately saying, “never mind,” so that they could discuss the current situation. It’s as if the writers realize she has to ask at least how he got there because she didn’t know what happened with his story, but the writers just don’t have enough time in the script itself to have him give her an answer.

So is the episode — good? Not really, but at least the season may be done with the filler stories.

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